Aug 1, 2007

Incompatible with my temperament

That's how Terry Teachout sees the work of Ingmar Bergman and I must say I agree, which is why I didn't bother posting about his death earlier. Then I read this column.
Bergman is one of a large category of “important artists” whose defining quality is an almost total absence of public acclamation or popularity. Every art form has its equivalent – think James Joyce or Sir Harrison Birtwistle – but cinema is exceptional in its preponderance of such “important artists”. The latest is Lars von Trier, a maker of terminally dull films that are, nonetheless, lauded by cineastes (they have their own word, signifying that they’re a cut above bog-standard moviegoers).


But much as I think Bergman is overrated, I hold only one thing against him: ruining Woody Allen. Somewhat bizarrely, Allen has long revered Bergman and made a series of films – September, Another Woman and Shadows and Fog – modelled on Bergman’s style. And although he has made some decent films since, Allen’s decline started with the Bergman hommage films. And for that the Swedish director can never be forgiven.
Yes. Yes. Yes. I started souring on both of them when I saw Interiors. It came out nearly 30 years ago and I saw it in the theater. I still regard the time spent there as among the worst two hours in my life.

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